Chatty the Hen Pheasant: Travels with the Pack
by Linda Harkey
Archway Publishing

"I had a nasty thought. What if I crunched down on Chatty? That would shut her up."

Nassau is a hunting dog, a Labrador retriever. It gets separated from its owner during a winter hunt by blowing snow. However, Nassau is well-trained and determined to find a pheasant for its owner, the "Great One." Catching a scent, Nassau dives into a snowbank and emerges with a pheasant named Chatty. Chatty is very unhappy that she has been pulled from her warm nest under the snow and berates Nassau. Nassau does its best to ignore Chatty and eventually hears its owner's whistle and brings the pheasant. Anticipating treats for the find, Nassau is disappointed when its owner lets the pheasant go. The owner explains that the bird is a hen and not to be hunted. The owner gives Nassau a loving scratch behind the ears, and they head home.

Harkey's picture book is highlighted by the wonderful winter scenes created by illustrator Mike Minick. Harkey's prose is clear and easy to follow. Chatty's dialogue is written well, displaying her consternation at her predicament and spirit. The main tension is derived from the reader wondering if Chatty is going to be killed or "crunched down on" by the dog or its owner. That level of tension within the context of Chatty's pleasant personification may come across as a bit much for younger readers. Still, the book gives plenty of opportunities to enjoy the wonderful artwork and engaging characters. In addition, the story offers parents the chance to talk about the food chain and why there are certain restrictions placed on hunting.

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